Carmel Unified School district (CUSD) has reason to celebrate this school year as they find bullying, drugs and alcohol use are dwindling due to a multi-year implementation of Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST). Based on the most recent California Healthy Kids Survey results (2014-15), CUSD has seen reductions upwards of 50% for alcohol/drug use and incidents often associated with bullying.
CUSD’s Board of Education identified drug/alcohol and bullying prevention as a top priority and it has been the focus of an objective in the district’s long-term goals. Five years ago, the rural school district in California selected LST as their top prevention program in grades 3 – 10.
“In recent years a group of stakeholders evaluated several evidence-based prevention programs and it was clear from the research that one program stood out from the rest: Lifeskills Training,” said Heath Rocha, Chief Student Services Officer, CUSD.
Through the LST program, students learn more than how to resist pressures to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and use illicit drugs; they also learn important life skills such as problem-solving, how to manage stress and anxiety, and how to communicate clearly. The combination of drug resistance skills and life skills has proven to be a powerful formula for preventing drug use and bullying.
“With the enormous research supporting Lifeskills Training’s efficacy, coupled with our experience, there is not a better program in existence that does a better job promoting social-emotional development, positive behaviors and relationships, and reduces the risk of alcohol and drug use/abuse,” said Rocha.
In addition to implementing the LST in grades 3 – 10, CUSD created a multi-pronged approach that included a social norms campaign, a parent committee, counseling, and multiple initiatives including a voluntary drug testing program.